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Monday, May 21, 2012

Solar Eclipse - 2012

Since we live just North and East of the center line of the eclipse viewing area, I decided to take a drive a little South and West to see if I could get some pictures. I travelled to the small town of Ropesville, about 20 miles SW of Lubbock. Shortly after entering the city limits there is a large parking area next to a couple of grain elevators. This made a great spot to watch the eclipse. I had previously searched Lubbock and found a #12 Welders helmet filter glass. This would go on my camera lens. I was limited on my camera to the 200MM of my lens, but that is what I had to work with. If I had done some pre-planning (paid more attention to this event and where it could be seen) I would have gotten one of those inexpensive mirrored 500MM lenses.
Following some directions I found on the Internet, I secured the filter to the lens with rubber bands around the lens hood which I had on backwards. The filter glass is green, so everything had a slight green tint to it. Below is one of the eclipse shots:
Due to the short lens length it looks a long way away.
I had the camera on a tripod and connected to a laptop with a USB cable. I was able to control the camera from the laptop. I could change all the setting on the camera, and view the live image, but did not have to stare at the sun, thus averting eye damage.
While I was sitting there, a family pulled up behind me and the father/husband came up and asked if I needed a pair of Solar Eclipse glasses. These special glasses do the same thing that the filter glass on the lens does. I told him that I did not as I could not find any in Lubbock. He stated that he had purchased his off the Internet and had a spare pair that I could have. This made the viewing easier as I could confirm what the camera was seeing. The gentleman went on to tell me that he had brought his whole family down from Oklahoma just to see this. It was an event that they may never have the opportunity to see again.
The eclipse continued in slow motion, I took a photo every couple of minutes that kind of shows the progress.  The pictures were all similar to the one above, a circle of light with the dark circle coming over it. Well, what did I expect. Of course the weather did not cooperate fully. There were some intermittent clouds during the course of the eclipse which limited the visibility, like this one at the start.

That lower cirle is a reflection of light in the lens, a reduction of the f-stop, or opening in the lens caused it to go away, but then you lost the clouds.
The best pictures were actually right at sun set. I was able to remove the filter glass and take the pictures below.

If you look close at the pictures you will see a blurred something going vertically and off to slight angles. It took me a little bit to figure out that this was tall grass that was immediately in front of the camera. With the lens open as wide as it was and the slow exposure times, the grass just shows as blurred lines. Note to self, remember that as the sun goes down, tall things in front of your camera will get in the way and ruin everything.

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Getting ready for Grapevine

We are sure looking forward to our annual trip to the Vineyards Campground in Grapevine, TX. This is one of the nicest RV facilities around, especially for being owned by a municipality. This year we have a little change as one of our group could not get reservations for Thursday night, so they have invited us to their house for the Thursday night Hamburger BBQ. Since they live less than 15 miles from the campground it is a great invite. Then we have a golf outing scheduled for Friday morning (finally all of us are over our ailements and are able to play), then a trip to the Grapevine Opry one night, Great Wolf Lodge for brunch and a bunch of time sittin' around jawin'. There is a post from last year that shows the campground (RV Park) in case you missed those. The travel season is finally upon us .